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Consolidated B-32 Dominator

 

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The B-32 was initially intended as insurance against failure of the B-29 program.


Consolidated were awarded a contract for the XB-32 at the same time as Boeing were given the XB-29, but the first prototype, (Model 33) did not fly for two years, the first XB-32 taking the air on September 7, 1942. In configuration a much bigger development of the Model 32 Liberator, the Model 33 had four 2200-hp Wright R-3350-23 Duplex Cyclone engines, each with two GE turbo-superchargers, driving four-blade Curtiss Electric propellers. The fuselage was of more circular section than that of the Liberator, and all crew compartments were pressurized. The nose was like that of the B-29, and the tail had twin fins similar in shape to the Liberator. Unlike the Liberator, the main gears had twin wheels and retracted forward into the inner nacelles (the four nacelles were large and extended aft of the trailing edge). Armament comprised two 20-mm (0.79-in) cannon and 14 03-in (12.7-mm) guns in remote-control barbettes.

 

However, the success of B-29 development and operational deployment made cancellation of the Dominator a very real possibility at several points in its development. Because the B-32 test program was so far behind schedule, not a single B-32 was ever sent to the Mediterranean or European Theaters of Operation.


Technical difficulties were severe. The sec-ond XB, flown on July 2, 1943, had a conventional nose with stepped pilot windscreens. The third, flown on November 9, 1943, fol-lowed the late-model Liberators in switching to an extremely large single fin and rudder. Large-scale production was planned, and orders were placed for 1700 production B-32 Dominators. However, technical difficulties continued, and to get the programme moving the pressurization and complex remote-control armament were abandoned at a late stage. The B-32 was produced as a strategic bomber cast in the mould of the B-24 Liberator with a typical over-target height of not above 8534 m (28 000 ft).


In December 1944, the B-32 program was almost canceled again. This time it was saved pending completion of a service test program. As put into production in the spring of 1944, the B-32 had five turrets, each housing a gunner and mounting twin .03-in (12.7-mm). Internal bomb bays under the wing spans carried 9072 kg (20 000 lb) of bombs. 


Up to ten 12.7mm (.50 caliber) M2 heavy machine guns were provided for self-defense and mounted in pairs in turrets. A Sperry electric-hydraulic ball turret was mounted in the nose along with two Martin electrically-operated dorsal fuselage turret positions and a Sperry retractable turret in a ventral position. A Sperry tail ball turret protected the rear.


Deliveries began in November 1944, 40 TB--32 crew trainers were used to train crews. While the service test proceeded, combat crew training was started in preparation for deployment to the Pacific (pending a successful service test.) The service test revealed several minor and a few major problems and the program was near cancellation once again in the spring of 1945.
In March 1945, General George Kenney, Commander of the Far Eastern Air Forces (5th AF), traveled to Washington D.C. to ask for B-32s. He wanted B-29s but was turned down because of higher priority needs elsewhere in the PTO. After demonstrations in Washington, General Kenney convinced the Army General Staff to allow him to conduct a combat evaluation of the Dominator. A combat test plan of eleven missions was planned and if successful, the B-32 was scheduled to replace all the B-24 groups in the Pacific Theater. Three B-32s were assigned to the 386th Bomb Squadron, 312th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force. The first combat test mission was flown against a supply depot at Antatet, Luzon, Philippines on 29 May 1945. The last mission of the generally successful combat test was flown on 25 June 1945 against bridges near Kiirun on the island of Formosa (Taiwan). 

 

The 386th Bomb Squadron completed B-32 transition in July 1945 and flew six operational combat missions before the end of the war. The most used Consolidated B-32 Dominator aircraft operationally were three B-32-20-CF's (Serial Nos 42-108528, 42-108529 'The Lady is Fresh’ and 42-108532 'Hobo Queen II’). These machines were assigned to the 386th Bombardment Squadron, 312th Bombardment Group (Light) and operated from Clark Field and Floridablanca in the Philippines from May 29th to July 6th, 1945. During this period they undertook twelve bombing missions and dropped 134 tons of bombs on enemy positions. On the 11th August 42-108528 and 42-108532 moved to Yontan Air Base on Okinawa and in so doing joined another five B-32s that were already stationed there.

Following the 9 August 1945 bombing of Nagasaki, the 386th conducted photo reconnaissance missions and during a photo-reconnaissance sortie near Tokyo on the 17th August 'Hobo Queen II’ and three other B-32s were attacked by ten Japanese fighters. The quartette defended themselves well and one Japanese fighter was shot down with another two claimed as probables. Furthermore, on the 18th August the 'Hobo Queen II’ and 42-108578 shot down two Japanese aircraft over Tokyo and claimed two more as probables. Although no Dominator was lost in combat, at least two were damaged. Sergeant Marchione, a photographer aboard one of the B-32s on the photo reconnaissance mission of 18 August 1945, was killed when his bomber was attacked by fighters.

The last B-32 combat mission (also photo recon) was completed on 28 August 1945. The 386th BS was ordered to cease combat operations two days later. Cancellation of the B-32 program came on 8 September 1945 and production of Dominators was halted on 12 October.

By VJ-Day 115 B-32s had been delivered, 1588 being cancelled and the type withdrawn from service.
Flyable aircraft at Consolidated factories were flown directly to the scrap yard and all partially built B-32s were scrapped at the factory. The last remaining B-32 was scrapped in the summer of 1949.



Number Built: 75
Serial numbers: 42-108471 to 42-10884; 42-108525 to 42-108584; 44-90486
74 B-32s built at the Consolidated Fort Worth, Texas plant.
1 B-32 built at the Consolidated San Diego, California plant.
3 XB-32s and 40 TB-32s were built
A total of 118 B-32 built of all types

Consolidated B-32 Dominator

Engines: 4 x Wright R-3350-23 Duplex Cyclone 18-cylinder air-cooled turbocharged radial, 2,200hp, 1641kW
Propellers: Curtiss Electric reversible-pitch four-blade
Length: 83 ft 1 in (25.3m)
Wingspan: 135.17ft (41.20m)
Wing area: 132.1 sq.m / 1421.91 sq ft
Wing load : 78.52 lb/sq.ft / 383.0 kg/sq.m
Height: 33.14ft (10.10m)
Empty Weight: 59,525lbs (27,000kg)
Maximum Take-Off Weight: 50576 kg / 111502 lb
Maximum Speed: 357mph (575kmh; 310kts) at 30,000 ft
Cruising speed: 290 mph
Maximum Range: 2,992miles (4,815km)
Range: 3,000 miles w/ 10,000 lb bomb load
Range w/max.payload: 1287 km / 800 miles
Rate-of-Climb: 658ft/min (201m/min)
Service Ceiling: 36,089ft (11,000m; 6.8miles)
Armament:
2 x 12.7mm M2 machine guns in nose turret
2 x 12.7mm M2 machine guns in forward dorsal turret
2 x 12.7mm M2 machine guns in rearward dorsal turret
2 x 12.7mm M2 machine guns in tail position
2 x 12.7mm M2 machine guns in ventral turret position
Up to 20,000lbs of internal ordnance
Accommodation: 10

 

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